VIRGINIA BEACH — City Councilmember Aaron Rouse is ending his campaign for mayor of Virginia Beach.
Rouse today made the announcement in a social media statement that initially caused some confusion about whether he was dropping out. The Independent News this afternoon confirmed with the campaign that Rouse is leaving the race.
“He’s not running,” Rouse campaign manager Lucas Anderton said in a telephone interview.
The challenge of seeking public office during the novel coronavirus public health crisis factored into the decision, according to the statement.
“A few weeks after announcing my candidacy, along with the world, our lives changed unexpectedly as a global pandemic put almost everything in our lives to a complete halt,” Rouse said in the statement.
“While I had every intention of running a campaign working night and day connecting and shaking hands with residents in every corner of our city, the safety and well-being of every Virginia Beach resident are far more important,” he said. “It’s not the time for me to ask for your support and vote.”
Rouse is a former professional football player who founded a non-profit that mentors young people. He is serving in his first term as an at-large member of the City Council.
In February, Rouse announced he would challenge Mayor Bobby Dyer in the November election. While acknowledging his brief time in public service, Rouse said he would run as a candidate of change for the City Council while tackling longstanding challenges such as flooding.
Rouse could not immediately be reached for comment this afternoon.
“It’s the time for me to support this city and its residents with getting back on its feet during these unfamiliar and challenging times,” Rouse said in the statement. “Virginia Beach, thank you for the opportunity to serve. I will continue to work hard as your councilman.”
Dyer, during a telephone interview today, said he looked forward to working with Rouse on the City Council. The mayor declined to discuss the election and whether he expected any other challengers, saying his focus is on the ongoing public health emergency.
“I look forward to building a better and stronger relationship with him and getting the council to work together to confront the multiple challenges we face as a city,” Dyer said.
Ed. — This is a developing story. It has been updated to include comment from Anderton and Dyer.
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